RGS shortlisted in the prestigious UK Social Mobility Awards
Reigate Grammar School has been shortlisted in the prestigious UK Social Mobility Awards for its achievement in opening up its world-class education to children from all backgrounds. The Awards celebrate and recognise the forward-thinking organisations developing initiatives to promote social mobility.
Headmaster Shaun Fenton says that the school is working towards ‘needs blind’ admissions, whereby places are awarded solely on the basis of ability, without applicants’ financial circumstances being taken into account. In 2017-2018, more than 200 children received financial support or bursaries.
The school’s commitment grows year on year, but not only in the area of bursary provision. It shares expertise, opportunities for academic enrichment, extracurricular activities, sporting and other and facilities that may not be available to those in maintained schools. For example, last year, partnerships with local schools saw over 3,000 state school students invited to Oxbridge, university entry and careers advice sessions. School staff also deliver PE lessons in state schools and the school hosts an annual primary school athletics rally for over 200 local school children where winners are awarded sprint, speed and power masterclasses from RGS’s performance coaches and Upper School athletes.
The school also runs workshops in music, theatre, art, sport, language and science for local state schools, including a Saturday morning music academy providing funded instrumental lessons, which is open to all local children.
Mr Fenton says:
“I am so proud that our school is a finalist in this competition in the School/College of the Year category. At a time when our critics are calling for the abolition of independent schools, this is a fantastic way of demonstrating our commitment to the local community and all children, whatever their background and their families’ financial circumstances. This is truly about changing children’s lives.”
“It’s also important to point out that many of our fellow schools in the sector work just as hard as we do to boost social mobility. This should be far more widely recognised.”
Mr Fenton said that he was particularly keen to attract looked-after children to his school, pointing to the Bursaries for Looked After Children which were established in partnership with the local authority.
“Our target is to become needs-blind in admissions, and we will get there.”
He said that identifying children who would benefit from a RGS education was key:
“Our early-admissions programme run with local primary schools serving disadvantaged communities enables pupils to progress to RGS who would never have thought it possible. With another £2m in signed pledges, we are on target providing another investment of £4m, by 2025.”
A shortlisting in the UK Social Mobility Awards is only the latest in RGS’s school recent successes. It was a finalist in more categories than any other school in this year’s TES Independent School Awards and won the award for Wellbeing Initiative of the Year. It is also a finalist in the Independent School of the Year Awards in the Social Mobility Category.
The UK Social Mobility Awards judging panel includes prominent figures from business, charity, politics and the public sector and is chaired by HM Lord Lieutenant of London Sir Kenneth Olisa OBE. The winners will be announced at a gala on 10 October 2019.